A timeline of the Trump-Comey saga: What led to Comey's firing and his testimony before Congress

Trump was fired by President Trump on May 9.

ByABC News
June 2, 2017, 5:17 PM

— -- President Trump fired FBI director James Comey on May 9, a move that has been decried by Democrats and questioned by some Republicans.

Comey was appointed director in 2013 by President Obama and had six more years left in his 10-year term. Presidents have the authority to fire FBI directors, which has only happened once before, in 1993.

Following Comey’s firing, more details about the former director’s firing and his conversations with President Trump while he was leading the FBI were revealed.

Now, in a highly anticipated hearing, Comey is set to testify in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee on June 8.

Here are events that led to Comey’s firing, the fallout, and Comey’s upcoming testimony.

July 5, 2016

Comey’s unusual press conference

James Comey held a press conference announcing that the FBI could not “find a case that would support bringing criminal charges” against Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server as secretary of state.

Although he strongly criticized Clinton and her staff for being “extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information,” Comey effectively closed the FBI’s investigation and cleared Clinton of any possible charges.

Oct. 28, 2016

The fateful letter Comey sent

The “October surprise” in the 2016 election was the letter Comey sent to Congress informing members that the FBI has discovered more emails related to the investigation into Clinton’s private email server.

The new emails were found on the laptop belonging to Clinton aide Huma Abedin’s estranged husband Anthony Weiner. The FBI was investigating the former New York congressman for any entirely different matter.

Trump praised the FBI’s decision to reopen the investigation.

"Perhaps finally justice will be done,” he said at a Manchester, New Hampshire, rally.

It was an unorthodox move for Comey to acknowledge the FBI’s finding of new evidence in the Clinton investigation considering the longstanding practice that officials do not comment publicly on pending investigations nor disclose information close to an election as so to avoid any potential influence on the outcome.

Jan. 22, 2017

Trump and Comey appear chummy

Trump welcomed Comey to the White House during a reception for law enforcement and first responders.

Trump pointed out Comey, calling him “James,” and said with a chuckle, “He’s become more famous than me.” Comey went up to Trump and shook the president's hand.

March 20, 2017

Comey confirms FBI’s investigation into potential Trump-Russia ties

During a five-hour hearing on Capitol Hill, Comey confirmed to the House Intelligence Committee that the FBI was investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, including any possible links or coordination between Trump campaign associates and the Russian government.

May 3, 2017

Comey explains his Oct. 28 letter

During an oversight hearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Comey was asked several questions about his decision to send the Oct. 28 letter to Congress.

"It makes me mildly nauseous to think that we might have had some impact on the election, but honestly, it wouldn't change the decision," Comey said.

Comey also testified that Abedin, Clinton's aide, appeared to have a "regular practice" of “forward[ing] hundreds and thousands of emails” to Weiner, “some of which contain classified information.”

According to a statement released to White House reporters Wednesday, Trump "was strongly inclined to remove" Comey after his testimony.

May 8, 2017

Comey’s testimony revealed to be inaccurate

ProPublica was the first to report that Comey’s testimony related to Abedin on May 3 is inaccurate. Sources refuted that the emails were mostly classified and told ABC News that Comey overstated the number of emails Abedin forwarded.

Comey had asked for more funding

Comey briefed some members of the Senate Intelligence Committee that he had asked for more money and manpower from the DOJ. Comey’s request was made directly to Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein - the man who recommended his firing. However, this is not known until May 10.

DOJ spokeswoman Sarah Flores said on May 10 that these reports were "100 percent false.” “It didn't happen,” Flores said in a statement.

White House officials said in a statement Wednesday that Trump met with Sessions and Rosenstein on Monday to discuss reasons for firing Comey.

May 9, 2017

The day of Comey’s firing

Rosenstein wrote a memorandum to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, criticizing Comey’s handling of the Clinton email investigation as well as his July 5 press conference on the FBI’s findings in the Clinton probe.

“I cannot defend the director's handling of the conclusion of the investigation of Secretary Clinton's emails, and I do not understand his refusal to accept the nearly universal judgment that he was mistaken,” Rosenstein wrote.

The New York Times reported that senior White House and DOJ officials were instructed to build a case against Comey last week and Sessions was assigned to come up with reasons to justify firing Comey.

Press secretary Sean Spicer said the letters written by Rosenstein and Sessions convinced Trump to fire Comey.

The president made the decision to let Comey go “pretty quickly” after receiving the recommendations, Sarah Huckabee Sanders told Fox News later that night.

Shortly after 5 p.m. ET, President Trump called several members of Congress to inform them of his decision.

According to Spicer, Trump reached out to House and Senate leadership. He called Speaker Paul Ryan and left a message for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. He also spoke to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and reached out to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Trump also reached out to Sens. Lindsey Graham, Bob Goodlatte, Chuck Grassley and Dianne Feinstein.

Around 5:40 p.m., news broke that Comey was fired. A statement from the White House said that President Trump informed Comey he had been “terminated and removed from office” and the search for a new FBI director will “begin immediately.”

“The FBI is one of our nation’s most cherished and respected institutions and today will mark a new beginning for our crown jewel of law enforcement,” Trump said in the statement.

Comey, who was in Los Angeles for bureau travel, learned of his firing from TV reports.

Around 9 p.m. ET, Comey took off in a private jet from Los Angeles and landed in Washington at 1 a.m. Wednesday morning, no longer the FBI director.

May 10, 2017

Trump welcomes Russian officials to the White House

PHOTO: President Donald Trump (C) speaks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (L) and Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergei Kislyak during a meeting at the White House in Washington, D.C., May 10, 2017.
President Donald Trump (C) speaks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (L) and Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak during a meeting at the White House in Washington, D.C., May 10, 2017.

Hours after firing Comey, President Trump welcomed Russian ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak and Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov to the White House.

May 11, 2017

The loyalty request

Within the same week Comey was fired, the New York Times reported that Trump had asked Comey over dinner in January if he could be loyal.

Sources told ABC News that Comey would not pledge his loyalty to Trump, he only promised that he could be honest.

Trump had Russia on the mind when he fired Comey

In an interview with NBC News, Trump said the decision to fire Comey was his alone and he was going to fire Comey “regardless” of Rosenstein’s recommendation, knowing that “there was no good time to do it.” He also revealed that he was thinking of the Russia probe as he ultimately made up his mind to dismiss Comey.

“And in fact when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story, it's an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won,” Trump said.

“We had a very nice dinner. And at that time he told me you are not under investigation,” Trump said, adding later, “I know that I'm not under investigation -- me, personally.”

Trump also claimed Comey requested the January dinner and asked to remain in his position as FBI director.

Acting FBI director testifies on Capitol Hill

In front of the Senate Intelligence Committee, the acting head of the FBI Andrew McCabe testified that there has been “no effort to impede our investigation to date.”

He challenged reports that Comey requested additional resources from the DOJ for the FBI’s Russia probe.

"I'm not aware of that request, and it's not consistent with my understanding of how we request additional resources," McCabe said. "We don't typically request resources for an individual case. And ... I strongly believe that the Russia investigation is adequately resourced."

McCabe also pushed back on one of the White House’s reasons for firing Comey - that Comey had lost the confidence of FBI’s rank-and-file.

“I can tell you also that director Comey enjoyed broad support within the FBI and still does to this day,” McCabe said.

May 12, 2017

Trump warns Comey

Trump tweeted: "James Comey better hope that there are no 'tapes' of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!"

Trump’s post prompted questions as to whether Trump did secretly record his conversations and meetings.

Trump denies he asked Comey for loyalty

In a clip of a Fox News interview released that day, Trump denied that he’d asked Comey for loyalty.

"No, no I didn't, but I don't think it would be a bad question to ask,” Trump said.

Trump added, “I think loyalty to the county, loyalty to the United States is important. You know, I mean it depends on how you define loyalty.”

May 16, 2017

The Flynn request

On May 16, a memo reportedly written by Comey back in February made waves.

The memo detailed an Oval Office meeting on Feb. 14 in which Trump asked Comey to drop the investigation into his former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

According to the New York Times, Comey wrote the memo immediately following his discussion with the president.

“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” said Trump to Comey, according to the source who read the memo. “He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”

Trump’s alleged request was the day after Flynn was forced to resign from the administration.

The White House denied that the president made this request to Comey - "This is not a truthful or accurate portrayal of the conversation between the president and Mr. Comey.”

May 19, 2017

Trump talks about Comey with Russian officials

The New York Times reported on May 19 that Trump told the Russian officials Kislyak and Lavrov firing “nut job” Comey eased the pressure off the Russia probe.

The comments Trump made to the Russian diplomats were during their May 10th meeting at the White House.

“I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off,” said Trump, according to the Times.

June 1, 2017

Comey to come back to Capitol Hill

The Senate Intelligence Committee announced that Comey will testify in an open hearing on Thursday, June 8. The committee’s main interest in Comey’s testimony is the details of his conversations with the president and his memos he took, if any, detailing the encounters.

ABC News’ Jack Date, Alexander Mallin, Cecilia Vega, Mike Levine and Justin Fishel contributed to this report.

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